Christian Horner remains confident Red Bull did not breach Formula One's budget cap rules last season ahead of the results of an FIA investigation.

The constructor faced reports both they and Aston Martin spent more than the $145million during Max Verstappen's title-winning campaign in 2021.

As Sergio Perez stormed to victory at the Singapore Grand Prix, clamour over the findings reached fever pitch, with Mercedes principal Toto Wolff claiming the breach was an "open secret".

But Horner has reiterated his belief the team remain inside budget constraints, while continuing to linger the threat of legal action against his rival over comments he considers defamatory.

"We're absolutely confident in our submission," he said. "Our audit was signed off by our auditors. We believe we are comfortably within the cap.

"We will consider all of our options. It was totally unacceptable to make a completely unfounded allegation – and on the basis of what knowledge? Where is this source of information?

"It was a confidential submission between the team and the FIA. I have no idea of the compliance of any of our rivals. So where does that information supposedly come from?"

Verstappen holds a 104-point lead over Ferrari's Charles Leclerc, and is closing in on his second world title, though if the FIA were to find Red Bull in breach last season, there could potentially be future repercussions on his prospects.

Sergio Perez's Singapore Grand Prix victory was confirmed after an FIA investigation into an infringement involving safety cars only resulted in a five-second time penalty for the Mexican.

Perez overtook Charles Leclerc on the first corner of Sunday's race at the wet Marina Bay Street Circuit, protecting his lead throughout to claim a second win of the season and fourth of his career.

Numerous safety cars were deployed throughout the eventful race in slippery conditions, with an investigation opened by the stewards into a misdemeanour by Perez when racing under a yellow flag.

Ferrari called for two five-second time penalties on Perez, who finished seven seconds ahead of Leclerc, for not keeping within 10 car lengths of the safety car.

Both the Red Bull driver and Leclerc were called to the stewards' office for their version of events after the race, with Perez also investigated for pulling alongside the safety car to encourage it to speed up.

Formula One's governing body, the FIA, reprimanded Perez for the first incident and gave him a five-second penalty for the second infringement, leaving the Red Bull racer two seconds ahead of Leclerc.

"Although the track was wet in parts, we do not accept that the conditions were such as to make it impossible or dangerous for Perez to have maintained the required less than 10 car length gap," the stewards said. 

"Nevertheless, we took into account the wet conditions and the difficulties highlighted by Perez as mitigatory circumstances for this incident and, accordingly, determine that a reprimand ought to be imposed.

"As this was the second breach of Article 55.10 by Perez during the race and followed an express warning from the race director, we determined to impose a five-second time penalty on Perez."

That leaves Perez trailing championship leader Max Verstappen by 106 points, with Leclerc in second as he sits 104 points behind the Dutchman.

Max Verstappen bemoaned a "messy" performance at the Singapore Grand Prix, where Lewis Hamilton vowed to "live and learn" to recover from another disappointing showing.

Red Bull driver Verstappen had won five straight races and recorded 12 victories in 2022 to head into Sunday's race with a 116-point championship lead.

But the Dutchman struggled on a soaked Marina Bay Street Circuit, finishing seventh as Charles Leclerc – who came in second behind Sergio Perez – cut Verstappen's advantage to 104 points.

Perez also trails his Red Bull team-mate by 106 points, though Verstappen could still secure the world title at the next race in Japan.

"It's not where we want to be," Verstappen told Sky Sports. "Yesterday, you put yourself in a spot like that and it can either work brilliantly and you can drive back to the front. Or you don't and it's very frustrating like we had [today].

"Seventh is better than eighth but it's not what I'm here for, not with a car like that and what we showed in practice. It's just incredibly messy."

Hamilton was another left frustrated as Formula One returned to Singapore for the first time in three years, slipping down to ninth after starting on the grid in third.

The seven-time world champion was initially edged out by Carlos Sainz on the first corner before crashing into the barriers later in the race when attempting to overtake the Ferrari driver.

"I think we started off with a pretty decent weekend and were just really, really unfortunate at the end," Hamilton added to Sky Sports.

"It was difficult to overtake and that lock-up into Turn 7 – when those things happen your heart sinks a little bit.

"But you get back up again and you try. It wasn't the greatest day, but I'm looking forward to tomorrow.

"It all went out the window when I locked up, so my apologies to the team, but we live and learn, and I'll recover."

Sergio Perez labelled the Singapore Grand Prix victory as his "best performance" after holding off Charles Leclerc on a soaked Marina Bay Street Circuit.

Ferrari driver Leclerc started on pole on Sunday ahead of Perez, who breezed into the lead at the first corner as Formula One racing returned to Singapore for the first time in three years.

The wet conditions that caused the race to be delayed by an hour were a problem throughout, with numerous safety cars deployed as five drivers failed to finish.

Perez held his nerve despite late pressure from Leclerc to claim his second victory of the season and fourth of his career to end Red Bull team-mate Max Verstappen's five-race winning streak.

"It was certainly my best performance," Perez told Sky Sports after the conclusion. "I controlled the race.

"The last three laps were so intense – when I got out of the car, I felt it. I gave everything."

While Perez celebrated on the podium, stewards investigated a possible infringement behind the safety car – a misdemeanour that Ferrari deemed worthy of a 10-second time penalty.

"I have no idea what's going on, they just told me I was under investigation and to increase the gap," Perez added after finishing seven seconds ahead of Ferrari's Leclerc.

Leclerc's colleague Carlos Sainz settled for third after battling with Lewis Hamilton on the opening corner, with the Briton finishing in ninth after another frustrating outing.

"It was very tough out there," Sainz said. "I never really got into a rhythm in the wet and then couldn't challenge the top two guys.

"I had to settle for P3, but the good thing is I didn't do any mistakes and could bring the car home and be quick towards the end of the race. 

"It's a good result for the team in the Constructors' Championship."

Sergio Perez secured a fourth Formula One triumph and second of the season as he dominated at the Singapore Grand Prix, ending Max Verstappen's five-race winning streak.

Verstappen headed into Sunday's race with a 116-point lead at the top of the championship, aiming for a sixth straight win and 12th victory of 2022 as he edges towards the title.

Yet it was Red Bull team-mate Perez who added to his Monaco Grand Prix crown earlier in the year by winning at a soaked Marina Bay Street Circuit, where safety cars were a regular feature.

Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz finished in second and third respectively, with Verstappen's championship lead over the Monegasque driver dropping to 104 points after the Dutchman came in seventh.

After an hour-long delay, Perez raced out the blocks to take the lead from Leclerc, while Lewis Hamilton recovered after being forced off the track in a battle with Sainz.

A plethora of safety cars followed as Zhou Guanyu, Nicholas Latifi, Fernando Alonso, Alex Albon and Esteban Ocon all retired inside the first 28 laps.

Perez continued to clock the fastest laps at the front before Hamilton – frustrated by Sainz in third – slammed into the barriers, with Lando Norris overtaking his fellow Briton.

Yuki Tsunoda's crash saw another safety car deployed before Verstappen swerved off the track to drop down to 12th, though he recovered to overtake Pierre Gasly and Valtteri Bottas.

Perez's domination under the lights continued despite the push of Leclerc as the Red Bull driver claimed victory at the first F1 race in Singapore in three years.

'I TOLD YOU' – HAMILTON BEMOANS MERCEDES TYRE DECISION

Hamilton started the race in third but fell down a place after a first-corner battle with Sainz saw the seven-time world champion edged off the track.

"I told you about these tyres, in future you need to listen to me. No grip," Hamilton declared on the team radio soon after, lamenting Mercedes' late decision to operate on intermediate tyres.

It was not the first time Hamilton – who ended in ninth – has exchanged such words with his team, adding to a frustrating season that could end without a single victory for the first time in his career.

ALONSO DENIED HISTORY

Alpine's Alonso was aiming to surpass Kimi Raikkonen for the most Grand Prix finishes in history as the Spaniard looked to complete his 351st race.

But after stating "engine, engine" on the team radio, Alonso was forced to withdraw before the halfway point in Singapore, leaving him waiting to overtake Raikkonen.

Lewis Hamilton hopes he can belatedly celebrate his first win of 2022 at the Singapore Grand Prix, believing such a result would pay back Mercedes and his fans for their support in a difficult year.

Hamilton is facing the first winless season of his Formula One career after falling out of title contention.

The seven-time world champion has made six podiums this year but is still waiting to return to the top step with only six races remaining in the season.

Hamilton at least appears to have the pace in Singapore, where he qualified third-fastest on Saturday and revealed only "an oversteer moment" at Turn 16 denied him the chance to take pole ahead of Charles Leclerc.

It was still the Briton's best qualifying performance of the season – which came as a surprise to him – and he is looking to improve further on race day.

"It feels incredibly rewarding, I think, for everyone in the team [to get this performance]," Hamilton said in a press conference.

"We've really started with a real handful, a difficult deck of cards that we've created for ourselves, and [it has meant] reshuffling and lots and lots of work.

"Everyone [has been] staying really positive, or as positive as possible, and everyone is just being incredibly diligent and never giving up.

"So, it's been an inspiring year for me, witnessing what my team do and being a part of that, and yeah, I so badly want to [win].

"Naturally the will and desire to get a good result for them, to pay them back for all their great work is part of it.

"Also, my fans have been the most incredible this year, on and off track. And we couldn't have survived the year without them. So, I also want it for them.

"But I think we've got a great turnout here this weekend. And I hope that tomorrow we can give them a good show."

This weekend, in which Max Verstappen can clinch a second straight title, albeit the Dutchman's chances have been reduced by a frustrating qualifying session, has been overshadowed by speculation of a major salary cap breach.

Red Bull, Verstappen's team, have been forced to deny claims they are the guilty party, and Hamilton was not interested in engaging in gossip.

"I'm not really giving it much attention, to be honest," he said. "It's all whispers at the moment.

"I don't know enough about it to be able to make a sensible comment. I'm not thinking particularly anything.

"I'm proud of my team for the diligence that they've done to run to the rules.

"And honestly, I have full confidence in Mohammed [bin Sulayem, FIA president] in the way that he's conducted himself to this point and in terms of being strict and being clear with the rules.

"The rules are rules, and for those sort of things, which can lead to real alterations in terms of car performance, those sorts of things, we definitely have to take it seriously.

"But as I said, I don't know if it's true or not, so we'll see."

Max Verstappen was forced to abandon his final lap in qualifying after his Red Bull ran out of fuel in Singapore, he confirmed after the session.

The reigning Formula One world champion was pushing to leapfrog Ferrari's Charles Leclerc for pole position in a wet session under the lights but was called into the pits as he approached the line.

Verstappen immediately expressed his fury over team radio and subsequently confirmed in the media pen that he was called in because there was not enough fuel left in the car.

"They told me to abort so I thought okay I'll do that but then on the final lap, they told me to box and then I realised what was going to happen and we ran out of fuel," he told Sky Sports.

"That's just incredibly frustrating and shouldn't happen. And even when you under-fuel it, you track that throughout the session, you're not going to make it and we should've seen that clearly.

"Not happy at the moment. It's a team effort. I can make mistakes and the team can make mistakes but it's never acceptable. Of course, you learn from it but this is really bad and  shouldn't happen."

F1 regulations state that each team must have enough fuel remaining after qualifying for scrutineering, with punishments issued if the required amount cannot be met.

Verstappen will start eighth on the grid for Sunday's race in south east Asia, where he can mathematically win the title but would require a massive shake-up across the grid.

Charles Leclerc clinched a ninth pole position of the season in Singapore, with Max Verstappen struggling in the wet conditions.

Intermediate tyres were used across the grid in the first two rounds of qualifying, with the deck only being shuffled in Q3 as eight of the 10 runners made the jump to slicks – though there were initial difficulties to find pace.

Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso were the first to hit their stride while others tiptoed around the wet sections of the track, with each claiming provisional pole twice before a resurgence from others on the grid.

Leclerc, who held pole the last time F1 visited Singapore in 2019, punched home a blistering lap to initially open a lead of a second and a half before others responded, Sergio Perez joining him on the front row as Hamilton lines up third – just five hundredths of a second away from his first pole of the 2022 season.

It was an entirely different story for a furious Verstappen, who will start eighth on the grid after being forced to abandon his final lap, unleashing his anger over the team radio.

Verstappen could seal the championship under the lights in Singapore if results go his way, though it now seems even more unlikely given his lowly start.

Leclerc admitted the conditions made for a tricky challenge for the drivers, with his call to move away from the intermediate compound coming just before the start of the final session

"It's been a very tricky qualifying, Q1 and Q2 with the intermediates, then in Q3 we didn't really know what to do," he said. "We went for the soft at the very last minute, and it paid off.

"It was really tricky, I made a mistake in my last lap, so I thought we wouldn't get through, but it was just enough, so I'm really happy."

Perez, starting second, will have a big role to play in Verstappen's charge up the grid and intends to immediately put Leclerc under pressure.

"It's an opportunity tomorrow to attack Charles from the start and go for the win," he said.

"It's disappointing to miss out on pole by two hundredths, but at the end of the day, it's a great result."

Hamilton was also disappointed to narrowly miss out on pole, saying: "I was pushing so hard, it was so close. These guys are always so quick, but I just thought that maybe with a perfect lap we could be pushing for first place.

"We just didn't have the grip in the last lap, but I'm grateful to be on the second row. I'm grateful for the team to keep pushing, and we'll keep our head down. Hopefully tomorrow is a better day."

PROVISIONAL CLASSIFICATION

1. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) 1:49:412
2. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) +0.022
3. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +0.054
4. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) +0.171
5. Fernando Alonso (Alpine) +0.554
6. Lando Norris (McLaren) +1.172
7. Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri) +1.799
8. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) +1.983
9. Kevin Magnussen (Haas) +2.161
10. Yuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri) +2.571

Red Bull chief Christian Horner has described claims of the team breaking Formula One's $145million (£114m) budget cap as "speculation", though Ferrari and Mercedes state the situation is an "open secret".

Two teams have reportedly breached F1's spending regulations, one of which is by a "significant amount", and Red Bull have swiftly been attributed with guilt – although there is no proof.

Horner told BBC Sport that it was "purely speculation" and added to Sky Sports he was "not aware" of any breach.

"We are certainly not aware of any [breaches]. The accounts were all submitted way back in March, so it's been a long process with the FIA going through, and we are in that process as we speak," he said.

The FIA will issue certificates of compliance on October 5, or announce any breaches, but both Mercedes and Ferrari suggested there was an understanding on the grid that two teams are at risk of punishment.

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff claimed one such party was "fundamentally massively over". 

"There's a team in minor breach, which is more procedural, and another team that is fundamentally massively over and that is still being looked at," he said. "That's an open secret in the paddock."

And there was a similar view from Ferrari, with racing director Laurent Mekies saying: "It's now no secret that two teams broke the 2021 budget cap regulations, one by a significant amount, the other less so."

The situation creates a significant headache for the FIA, with the 2021 season already shrouded in controversy after Max Verstappen pipped Lewis Hamilton to the title in the final race in Abu Dhabi, with race director Michael Masi failing to implement the rules correctly after a late safety car.

Emergence of further controversy will not be welcomed, and questions will be asked as to why the results are so delayed, with F1 now in the back end of the 2022 season and Verstappen waltzing to a second title in a row.

Punishments for budget cap breaches can be severe, with potential points deductions for minor violations, while the heaviest punishment for a larger breach includes banning a team or driver.

A breach last year would also have a knock-on effect into the current campaign as the cap includes development of the car for the following season.

Max Verstappen suggested he would have liked to see Ferrari take the Formula One title fight to the wire ahead of his first opportunity to seal consecutive championships.

Verstappen could retain the drivers' championship at Sunday's Singapore Grand Prix, although it appears an unlikely prospect as he requires both Sergio Perez and Charles Leclerc to post poor finishes.

Nevertheless, it appears to be a matter of time before Verstappen clinches his second crown, with Ferrari's issues with reliability and strategy costing Leclerc the chance to compete.

Verstappen holds a 119-point lead over Leclerc at the top of the standings after winning each of the last five races, and the Dutchman says he would have relished a closer battle.

"I mean, [there are] two sides. Yes, in one way, I would have liked them to still be in the fight," he said on Thursday. 

"But from my side, of course it's also nice to win it in a more calm way. 

"I think what is good to see is that they are very competitive this year compared to the last few years, and I think that's what F1 needed."

Meanwhile, Verstappen is not getting carried away by the prospect of wrapping up the title in Singapore, and has revealed he would prefer to seal the deal at next week's Japanese Grand Prix.

"It's a bit unrealistic for it to happen. So I don't really think about it," Verstappen added. "It's quite a long shot. I just want to enjoy the weekend, and of course, try to win it.

"I think Japan is nicer. I'm really excited to go back there, It's been a while. It's an amazing track and for me, anyway, it has quite special memories.

"The first time I drove an F1 car was there in FP1, and I will always remember that. And besides that, it is kind of a home GP with [Red Bull engine provider] Honda.

"I think [it will be] my first proper opportunity to win the title. So yeah, of course, I'm looking forward to Singapore right now. But I'm also very excited for next weekend."

Daniel Ricciardo has described the prospect of taking a Formula One reserve role in 2023 as "realistic" ahead of his McLaren exit.

Ricciardo has been linked with vacant seats at several teams since McLaren announced an early termination of his contract in August, with spots at Alpine, Williams and Haas up for grabs.

The Australian has struggled for consistency this year, and sits 14th in the drivers' championship standings after finishing just four of his 16 races in the top 10.

Ricciardo has also been linked with reserve roles at F1 heavyweights Red Bull and Mercedes, and recently said his desire to "get back to winning" will be a key consideration when he makes a decision on his future.

Speaking ahead of Sunday's Singapore Grand Prix, Ricciardo said his preference remained a permanent spot on the grid, but refused to rule out taking a back-up role.  

"Let's say my head space is in the same space," he said on Thursday. "I'm still keen to be part of F1 and of course, plan A would be to be on the grid.

"So nothing's changed but I don't want to just jump at the first kind of seat available. 

"I know the landscape probably changes as well at the end of next year, with contracts and whatever, so I don't want to say I'm remaining patient, but remaining open."

Asked about the prospect of taking a reserve role, Ricciardo added: "It's certainly something that's realistic, yeah.

"That's the two realistic options. It's not to be anywhere else. I love other disciplines of motorsport but I don't see myself there. 

"I feel as well if I jump into something like that, it closes the door on F1. It kind of feels like I've checked out, and I haven't. So I'm solely focused on F1.

"My team is talking with, I want to say, pretty much everyone, or they're having conversations, so we're just trying to put it all together and figure out what makes the most sense.

"So it's not that they're not calling or they're not interested, I'm not coming from a place of overconfidence, but we're just doing our due diligence and figuring out what's best.

"I'm trying to see beyond next year. Of course, I want to be racing but I also don't want to just look at the next 12 months and not look at the next 24.

"I guess I don't want to just race to race, I want to race with a true belief or understanding that I could be back on the podium, ultimately."

Lewis Hamilton has declared he "feels for the fans" after Max Verstappen's dominance of the F1 championship battle this season.

The Red Bull ace tops the standings by a whopping 116 points heading into Sunday's race at Singapore, where he can clinch the crown if a series of permutations are met.

It is unlikely that Singapore will be the race where Verstappen wins the title, with a more likely scenario seeing him crowned champion the following week in Japan.

Either way, a second title in a row for Verstappen is inevitable and Hamilton has declared it is "never great" when the battle is concluded prematurely.

"I definitely feel for the fans because for everyone and even for us, last year, going right down to the wire, that was intense for everybody. So, it's never great when the season finishes early," he said at a news conference on Thursday.

"Even when I've experienced having it finish early in places like Mexico. For you as the one individual, it's great but for the actual sport it's not spectacular.

"I'm really grateful to have had 2008 right down to the last 17 seconds, and obviously last year, pretty much the same thing. Let's hope for the future, it's a bit better."

Max Verstappen's coronation as Formula One world champion is imminent and could be marked as early as Singapore.

On the back of five victories in a row, Verstappen has opened a whopping 116-point gap at the top of the standings with six races remaining in 2022.

Verstappen will be crowned as champion if he wins under the lights in Singapore alongside clinching the fastest lap but would need Ferrari's Charles Leclerc to finish eighth or lower and team-mate Sergio Perez to finish fourth or lower.

Given the sequence of requirements for Verstappen to win on Sunday, the following week's race in Japan stands as the most likely to see the Red Bull ace secure his title, but individual records are also up for grabs.

A victory would also mark Verstappen's 12th of the season, putting him behind only Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel (both 13) for the most wins in a single season.

Qualifying will likely be vital to any hopes of another Verstappen win, with 66.7 per cent of race winners in Singapore starting from pole - Vettel being the last to win in 2019 when not starting from the front.

Mathematically, three drivers are still able to usurp Verstappen from his throne, George Russell also within distance alongside Leclerc and Perez, but the dominance of Red Bull this season makes any late turnover nigh-on impossible.

Hamilton's history

With six races remaining in 2022, Lewis Hamilton is without a victory this season and it could see the British driver fail to win a race in a campaign for the first time.

Mercedes have strong history in Singapore, however, securing more wins at the circuit than any other team (four), though Red Bull and Ferrari (both three) could equal that tally this weekend.

Spare seats

Alfa Romeo's new deal for Zhou Guanyu leaves three remaining seats on the grid for 2023, with Williams, Haas and Alpine yet to fill their quota for next year.

Pierre Gasly and Daniel Ricciardo are the two on the grid that could be on the move, with Ricciardo set to leave McLaren and Gasly heavily linked with Alpine, which would result in a seat up for grabs at AlphaTauri.

The FIA has confirmed that IndyCar driver Colton Herta will not be granted an F1 Super Licence.

The 22-year-old American, the youngest ever driver to win an IndyCar Series race, had been eyed by Red Bull to join their development process and potentially earn a drive with AlphaTauri next season.

However, Herta was eight points short of the 40-point total necessary to qualify for a Super Licence and Red Bull had lobbied for an exemption, arguing the FIA undervalued the experience of racing in IndyCar.

Red Bull's request had irritated rival teams, including Ferrari and Mercedes, but the FIA have brought an end to the matter by confirming an exemption would not be granted.

"The FIA confirms that an enquiry was made via the appropriate channels that led to the FIA confirming that the driver Colton Herta does not have the required number of points to be granted an FIA Super Licence," the statement read.

"The FIA continuously reviews its regulations and procedures, including with respect to Super Licence eligibility, with the main factors being considered with respect to this topic being safety, experience and performance in the context of the pathway."

Herta has long been touted for a future in F1 as the motorsport looks to capitalise on a growing popularity in the United States, building upon the success of Netflix's Drive To Survive series.

Miami has been added to the F1 calendar alongside Austin and Las Vegas, and joins the schedule next year as the third race in the USA, while North America also sees races in Canada and Mexico.

Formula One world champion Max Verstappen shrugged off the jeers and boos he received after triumphing at the Italian Grand Prix.

Verstappen won behind a safety car on Sunday, having capitalised on Ferrari's questionable tactics, which left Charles Leclerc having to settle for second place on the team's home race.

The victory moves Verstappen – who had never won at Monza – 116 points clear of Leclerc in the driver standings, with Red Bull also safely at the summit of the constructor table.

Yet after celebrating an 11th win of the season, Verstappen had to contend with jeers from the stands during his post-race interview.

"It happens, everyone speaks to me about it with the booing and stuff but at the end of the day I am here to try and win the race which we've done," Verstappen subsequently told reporters.

"Some people of course they cannot appreciate that because they are very passionate fans for a different team. It is what it is.

"It is not going to spoil my day, I am just enjoying the moment."

Leclerc, however, was disappointed, telling reporters: "Nobody likes booing and I think it shouldn't happen. That's it."

Verstappen, who had to overcome a grid penalty to seal his maiden Monza success, has won the last five races and the Dutchman could wrap up his second world title when F1 returns in Singapore in October.

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